Section 5
Areas for Further Study

Due to time constraints, the Commission is not making detailed recommendations in certain areas that could fall within the scope of our original charge.

While the Commission is familiar with the 1998 instant runoff voting bill, H.665, we did not delve into the details of its functioning. We recommend it generally, while leaving the drafting details to the appropriate legislative committees and legislative counsel.

The Commission is not making any recommendations about how the IRV ballot should be designed, other than that a balance must be struck between ease for the voter and ease for the polling officials. The Commission examined numerous ballot designs used around North America and around the world for both hand counts and machine-read ballots, and concluded ballot redesign should not be an obstacle to the adoption of IRV. The principles of good ballot design already exist in Vermont’s statutes, which give authority to the Secretary of State to specify approved designs through rules.

Finally, while the Commission did take some expert testimony and did give some consideration to the use of preference voting in the election of legislators, we are not prepared to give a recommendation in this area. Arguments were made about the desirability and rejuvenation of our democracy that could result from the adoption of some form of proportional representation for the election of legislators. We do believe this is an area worthy of continued examination by the General Assembly (either by committee or special citizen commission). We agree with critics of our existing winner-take-all legislative races that such a voting system tends to under-represent minority voices within the "people’s house" and thus constricts political debate and weakens public interest in electoral participation. The fact that the U.S. has, by far, the lowest rate of voter participation of any developed democracy is of great concern to us. Proportional representation is certainly an option that should be considered, but is beyond the limits of this report.